Who Will be Our Future Accompanists?
by W. Herbert Klopfer
Question: Who will provide musical accompaniments in the future for our congregational singing?
Answer: The Church has great need for its members to be able to play at least a few basic hymns on the piano or on other approved keyboard instruments. Yet there seem to be fewer young people in our wards and branches who can play standard keyboard instruments in our sacrament meetings. Many missionaries serving throughout the world have very little or no training in playing the piano. If this trend continues unchecked, we will soon see the day when more wards and branches will be totally dependent on recorded accompaniments for congregational singing.
Live accompaniments should normally be used in our Church meetings where there is a piano or organ available. Our Church leaders have given wise counsel for many years and have provided valuable training resources to help members of the Church learn to accompany the hymns.
Ward and branch music personnel have long been encouraged to promote "private music study for children, youth, and adults . . . (and) advanced musical training in university, college, and community education courses." (Handbook for Church Music, 1975, page 7).
Wherever economically feasible, parents should encourage their children to learn the basics of piano playing by studying with reliable teachers. In the absence of public schools placing sufficient emphasis on music studies in many parts of the world, following this long-standing counsel is more crucial today than ever before.
When it is not economically possible to study with private teachers, we encourage parents to make good use of the Church-publishedBasic Music Course which can and should be studied diligently by individuals on their own (if they choose) or by groups of individuals within established Church organizations.
The Basic Music Course features simple studies on conducting the hymns and playing keyboard instruments. It may well be the most effective music training resource produced in this dispensation for a worldwide Church audience. It is available to anyone and everyone of all ages. It will effectively train our young people to serve as better missionaries and to serve more meaningfully in their ward and branch meetings.
Learning to play the organ also begins with this same keyboard course and/or taking private organ lessons where possible. Organs in church buildings should be made available to members utilizing those buildings who are working to develop organ skills. (Church Music Handbook, 1993, page 13).
We encourage Latter-day Saints everywhere to use available resources to build a core of young men and young women who can play the basic hymns of the Church when they serve as missionaries and when they are given opportunities to serve in music-related assignments in their wards and branches. The Lord will surely be more pleased with all of us if we do all we can to provide live musical accompaniments in our sacrament and other meetings.